Hosting EPA Administrator Pruitt, Burgum urges state flexibility on WOTUS, applauds federal cooperation

Wednesday, August 9, 2017 - 4:30pm

FARGO, N.D. – Gov. Doug Burgum today hosted U.S. Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Scott Pruitt during his first visit to North Dakota, encouraging him to continue the cooperative approach between the state and federal government on water, agriculture and energy issues.

“We’re very grateful to host Administrator Pruitt in North Dakota and discuss how federal regulations impact energy, agriculture, and natural resources in our state, and to thank him for his efforts to roll back burdensome and overreaching regulations such as the Waters of the U.S.,” Burgum said. "We share the fundamental goals of protecting the environment, improving public health and bolstering our economy. We appreciate Administrator Pruitt’s commitment to empowering states to solve our collective challenges through more innovation instead of more regulation.”

Pruitt, who was invited to North Dakota by Burgum, participated in a roundtable discussion with the governor, U.S. Sen. John Hoeven, Congressman Kevin Cramer, Attorney General Wayne Stenehjem, Lt. Gov. Brent Sanford, other state and local officials and agricultural groups at North Dakota State University as part of his listening tour on the Obama-era Waters of the U.S. (WOTUS) rule that the EPA has moved to rescind as part of a two-step process to redefine the rule.

Recognizing states have unique water features that don’t support a one-size-fits-all approach, Burgum advocated for primary regulatory authority at the state level and a clearer definition of navigable waters under WOTUS to give farmers, landowners, businesses and industry more regulatory certainty while also reducing costs.

Pruitt, a former attorney general and state senator from Oklahoma, pledged to work collaboratively with North Dakota and other states to help protect their water and air and grow their economies, reiterating his position that, “The days of coercive federalism are over.”

“As I’ve traveled state-to-state, farmers and landowners have told me firsthand the harmful impacts the 2015 WOTUS rule would have on American agribusinesses,” Administrator Pruitt said. “EPA is no longer in the business of advancing unnecessary and burdensome regulations that harm the agriculture industry and do little to help keep water clean.”

In the afternoon, Burgum accompanied Pruitt during stops at a rural Grand Forks farm and the University of North Dakota’s Energy and Environmental Research Center (EERC), where a tour showcased the state’s research efforts on carbon capture and enhanced oil recovery. Burgum thanked Pruitt for the EPA’s proposal in May to make North Dakota the first state in the nation to apply for and receive primary regulatory authority over carbon dioxide capture and storage, paving the way for pilot projects that could reduce emissions and boost the state’s energy industry. A roundtable discussion on energy followed the tour.